By Niresia Jacintah – a commentator on religious issues
An excerpt from Beverly Sills’ writings reads, “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on for it won’t be long. Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.” When I was a freshman, I fell ill towards the end of the semester. Being far from home, I expected that my friends would come to help or even visit. This was however, not the case. They, all of a sudden, became busy for a whole week. This made me think that that the people I had as friends were simply not as friendly. At such a time, I had imaginations that these individuals whom I fondly referred as friends were actually the exact opposite. Thoughts bombarded my inner self and made refreshing cases of how these personalities were not my friends. Another time, I decided to venture into some business. Friends are expected to support you. This, they can do by not exactly buying the products on sale but also by giving you the moral support and the advice you need. This time, my friends left in a lull after thoroughly discouraging me against the idea. In fact, my friends left without giving reasons to why they were against my idea. Of course, not all of my friends left but the majority did. These two incidents had me thinking a lot about friendship and all it entails. I actually decided to do some sort of research about the topic. Specifically, I decided to research on what God says about the same. I learnt a huge lesson after consulting the Biblical teachings: Friends are, and should be, there for each other (Genesis 38:20).
As the Bible opines, Judah wasn’t in a position to go, but his friend did. Though it doesn’t mean we go along with everything, it is certainly good to be part of our friends’ lives. After all, it is what we would wish others to do for us (2 Samuel 13:3). Friends easily figure us out – Our friends know when we are okay and when we are not. However, every bit of advice given by our friends should be examined before being implemented. Amnon died because he took the advice of his friend. In fact, such an experience with the advice from his friend was the beginning of the tale that ended in his death. Even though Amnon was the heir apparent to the throne, he is best remembered for raping Tamar, his half-sister. The most overriding question remains: why should someone embrace a suicidal advice just because it is being offered by a friend? It is always good to heed advice: a friend’s advice is precious but someone should take great care before implementing the same. It is expected that friends are loyal (2 Samuel 16:17). If we are to choose sides, we should choose our friends. Such was Absalom’s proposition of friendship (Job 6:27). Friends build and cultivate each others’ capacity and means of sustainability. Founded on such an explanation, friends should not sabotage each other, whether emotionally, physically, mentally or financially. Do not curve out hollows in their hearts (Psalms 35:13-14). Such an explanation formulates the reasoning to why friends should always pray for each other. We should be careful to do that (Psalms 41:9).
Friends are people whom we are familiar with. We know them not to get accustomed in a sense that we may disrespect them. In friendship, there exists an element of trust. An important question arises: As a friend, can you be trusted by anyone? Also, who do you trust? A friend loves at all times; whether they are being loved back or not, whether they are weak or strong (Proverbs 17:17). The real friend is the one who sticks with you regardless of the situation. We are all friends if we stick with others through it all (Proverbs 19:4, 19:6). Most people do not like friends who are always borrowing and dependent. When people look for friends, they sometimes ask the inner self some queries – what are they offering me? How happy are we for our friends? (John 3:29). Do we rejoice for their success? God called Abraham because apart from being loyal and loving Him, He also believed in Him. That really counts. Do we believe in our friends? (Isaiah 41:8). People learn from one another, just as a piece of iron sharpens another. Teach your friend the new skill you learnt (Proverbs 27:17). From the lessons above, I have fostered better friendships. I hope this helps in our relationships with our friends. Friendships are valuable and should be guarded at all costs. However, it is advisable to craft friendships that are hinged on God’s ways. If we fail to put God at the heart of our friendships, we’re just engaging in futility.